First, he made some comments about why so few women are being appointed federal judges -- namely, that they simply aren't applying because of the "special bond" they have with their children.
Then, he got into a Twitter war with Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, objecting to Trudeau's mention of legalizing marijuana to a group of students with a tweeted protest that began, "As a parent..." This prompted a flurry of sarcastic responses under the hashtag #asaparent. (As I commented to Pamela at Silent Sorority, it reminded me of how she used to take articles that used the phrase "as a mom…” and then change them to “as an infertile…” -- sometimes with hilarious results.)
Then, some of McKay's messages to his staff members to mark Mother's Day & Father's Day were compared and contrasted -- and found wanting. As reported in the Globe & Mail:
Mr. MacKay’s Mother’s Day message to Justice Department staff, in recognizing those who hold “two full-time jobs” as colleagues and as mothers and caregivers, said that by the time many of them reach the office, they have “already changed diapers, packed lunches, run after school buses, dropped kids off at daycare, taken care of an aging loved one and maybe even thought about dinner.”The more I thought about it (#asanonparent), the more I wondered about two things that nobody else seemed to be mentioning or asking:
By contrast, the Father’s Day message spoke of “dedicated fathers, shaping the minds and futures of the next generation of leaders.” In both the Mother’s and Father’s Day messages, and in his meeting with the Ontario lawyers, he cited what he’d learned from his own experience as the married father of a toddler.
(a) Since when have bosses started issuing workplace messages to their employees related to Mother's Day & Father's Day? (The only holiday I can ever remember where the higher-ups issued some kind of message or commentary was Christmas/New Year's/"the holidays" -- and that was abandoned quite some time ago.)
(b) How many of the minister's staff members don't have children (quite a few, I would guess) -- and what words of praise & wisdom & recognition did he have to offer them?
McKay is still in his 40s, newly married to a highly accomplished woman and, as noted, a new dad. Presumably, he should know better. On the other hand, consider the party he belongs to and the company he keeps...
On the plus side, these events have inspired some great comment & opinion pieces in the press.
There's Tabitha Southey's wry commentary in the Globe & Mail:
Compound all that with the self-righteous “As a parent...” and we have Russian nesting dolls of wrongness! As if people without children have no desire to see the country run well. Were all the minister’s opinions suspect before the birth of his son a year ago?...And (needless to say) I adored this piece by Susan Delacourt in the Toronto Star, with insights such as:
But in general, and I say this as a parent, lots of us are morons, and those who sling our children about like moral cudgels are in the wrong – and what a vast land Mr. MacKay is proving the wrong to be!
...Basically, to hear Minister MacKay explain it, our Federal Courts are run by dozens of baby-eating Greek Titans – it’s all Kronoses over there with the occasional Joan Crawford thrown in.
...perhaps we should be asking how parenthood has become some kind of blanket assurance of noble motives in politics. Or why we assume that the mere fact of having children — not exactly a unique condition in human experience — gives a person a heightened capacity for compassion.Amen!
For parents or non-parents, isn’t the true test of empathy your ability to see yourself in someone else’s shoes — someone who doesn’t look or act or live like you? On this score, we have no reason to believe that Canadian parents are more, or less, caring than any other kind of people in the population.
...Being a parent is without a doubt something to celebrate, but it shouldn’t be a stick to whack political opponents. Nor should it be the price of admission to a conversation about what’s best for Canadian families — with kids or without them.